Prevalence and association of non-medical cannabis use with post-procedural healthcare utilisation in patients undergoing surgery or interventional procedures: a retrospective cohort study


Background:

There is paucity of data regarding prevalence and key harms of non-medical cannabis use in surgical patients. We investigated whether cannabis use in patients undergoing surgery or interventional procedures patients was associated with a higher degree of post-procedural healthcare utilisation.


Methods:

210,639 adults undergoing non-cardiac surgery between January 2008 and June 2020 at an academic healthcare network in Massachusetts, USA, were included. The primary exposure was use of cannabis, differentiated by reported ongoing non-medical use, self-identified during structured, preoperative nursing/physician interviews, or diagnosis of cannabis use disorder based on International Classification of Diseases, 9th/10th Revision, diagnostic codes. The main outcome measure was the requirement of advanced post-procedural healthcare utilisation (unplanned intensive care unit admission, hospital re-admission or non-home discharge).


Findings:

16,211 patients (7.7%) were identified as cannabis users. The prevalence of cannabis use increased from 4.9% in 2008 to 14.3% by 2020 (p < 0.001). Patients who consumed cannabis had higher rates of psychiatric comorbidities (25.3 versus 16.8%; p < 0.001) and concomitant non-tobacco substance abuse (30.2 versus 7.0%; p < 0.001). Compared to non-users, patients with a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder had higher odds of requiring advanced post-procedural healthcare utilisation after adjusting for patient characteristics, concomitant substance use and socioeconomic factors (aOR [adjusted odds ratio] 1.16; 95% CI 1.02-1.32). By contrast, patients with ongoing non-medical cannabis use had lower odds of advanced post-procedural healthcare utilisation (aOR 0.87; 95% CI 0.81-0.92, compared to non-users).


Interpretation:

One in seven patients undergoing surgery or interventional procedures in 2020 reported cannabis consumption. Differential effects on post-procedural healthcare utilisation were observed between patients with non-medical cannabis use and cannabis use disorder.


Funding:

This work was supported by an unrestricted philantropic grant from Jeff and Judy Buzen to Maximilian S. Schaefer.


Keywords:

Cannabis; Cannabis abuse; Healthcare utilization; Recreational drugs.

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